It was 9:00 in the morning when our 8 month silence was put to an end. I saw her face appear on my phone, it was a picture she had sent me almost a year ago when she volunteered at a daycare and had her face painted by small children. She found a way to look sexy even through the paint and the mild disgust she had for children. I answered the phone and tried to suppress the smile on my face, “Morning, it’s been a while”
“I shouldn’t have called” although time had passed I her pitch was high and her cadence was rushed. It sounded like fear.
“Are you ok? I can come and get you”
“I don’t know, and you can’t. I moved”
She had never told me she moved so this was news to me.
“What’s happening, are you somewhere safe right now”
“Yeah. I’m in my car”
“Are you driving?”
Her voice was even higher, the pitch was going to break.
“You should pull over so we can talk about whatever it is that’s happening.”
“Are you hurt?
This one was quieter, a whisper, she sounded younger.
“Did someone do something to you”
“I think so.”
I felt the anger swell and breakthrough into my voice, “Did somebody touch you”
“Yes I think, I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense. I did this I guess I don’t know. I think I’m fine but I’m scared. I fucked up. “
I interrupted her between sobs, “He didn’t do this to you did he?” Before I asked I knew he wouldn’t have done this too her. Despite my feelings towards him he was a respectable man who loved Amanda more than I did.
She replied with, “mmno”.
I tried to sound calm. “You need to take a deep breath and tell me what happened.”
I heard her sigh and I could hear the inhale trying to come through the gasps that come with crying. Two minutes went by and I listened to her breath , I heard it find a rhythm within the chaos.
“ I went out to meet an old friend of mine, one that I had slept with before, on two occasions, I went to a sort of “kickback” with him and his two friends. We drank a lot of beer, the most beer I’ve ever had and were having a good time. Then I went to the bathroom, I was really drunk I could hardly walk, and he nudged me back in and well I guess he took advantage of me.”
Disgust that felt like heartburn filled my body and and I tried to keep myself calm. “I’ll kill him”, I told her. I felt sick. She was not the only person I have known that has been raped, it is more common than it should be.
“I don’t know what I’m going to tell him,” she said through soft whimpers
“Everything will be ok. You will be ok. You are strong.” She was silent. When she wasn’t making snide remarks about whatever I said, I would normally hear her smile. I could hear the curvature of her lips when I clumsily tried to compliment her. But now there was nothing. I wasn’t surprised at the reaction but it just felt out of place having this conversation with her.
“I can’t believe I did this” she nearly whispered.
“This isn’t your fault…”
“But I drank so much and I didn’t fight..”
I interrupted her, “Did you want it?”
“No.” Her voice cracked.
“Ok. This isn’t your fault. Try to calm down for me.”
I heard her take a deep breathe.
“Sorry I’m such a mess.”
“Don’t apologize. Are you ok?”
“Yeah I’ll be fine”
Her voice started scaling upwards. She was going to crack if I stayed on the phone with her. I never know what to do in these moments: to let her shatter as I watch helplessly or to give her privacy. It is one of those things that you never know if you are right but I sensed or maybe hoped that she wanted to be alone.
“I’ll let you go but call me if you need anything.”
“Bye take care. I’m here if you need me.”
The phone clicked. A lot had happened in 8 months although it didn’t seem like it. She apparently had moved somewhere with her boyfriend and I had started seeing someone, but it felt fresh. Like she had been over at my house last weekend, I could still remember the sound her car made when backed out of the dirt road, the hum of her engine and the pebbles that would pop and grind beneath the tires. I grabbed a pack of cigarettes and went outside.
I was at the cabin. I sat in one of the two chairs on the porch, it was only 9:15 and a little early to open a new pack but this was a different morning and holding on to superstition would not make this day any better. I took my first inhale and focused on my surroundings. Although not visible the sun was hot, I could smell the dew baking off the grass imitating the smell of lawn clippings. The gnats were low to the ground in quantities that could be mistaken for cloud shadows. My phone rang and it was Amanda.